Why only the United Nations but even scholars in the West do not know the fundamental difference between the Abrahamic religions and the Eastern faiths, especially Hinduism. True, Swami Vivekananda had made a marvelous start at the Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893 and followed up in the short life left to him. Thereafter, however, not sufficient effort has been made to explain the intellectually wide difference between say Christianity and Hinduism.
ISKCON, for example has spread its lovely temples far and wide. As a result, the Vaishnav deities, their pujas, aarties and prasads have been popularised. The temples are well constructed, kept clean and are therefore welcoming to their devotees whether Hindus or others. But hardly anyone realises and no one explains the invaluable need of the Hindu faith to the world if it wants ongoing peace.
Most people, including the highest to the humblest officials of the United Nations and those that attend its sessions representing their countries have had any real exposure to Hinduism. At best, if they visit India, they visit a temple or two and occasionally admire its carvings but are put off by the oily, slippery floors, the avaricious pandas and the ill-clad beggars. The importance of the faith cannot be appreciated unless one knows its logic and its reasoning. There are a few assumptions in Hindu theology which begins as if it were a science.
As should be well known, the subject of Logic is divided into the Deductive and the Inductive. The former begins with a presumed or given premise and on its basis, corollaries follow. Say there is one god and he is the only god. Only his followers who do good deeds on earth would be judged on doomsday to be eligible to go to heaven. The ill-doing followers would have to proceed to hell, but that is their bad luck. If you come across anyone who does not follow the same god but you like the person, you should try to convert him/her to worship the only god without whose judgment he/she cannot possibly reach heaven.
Other than doing deeds as prescribed by the scriptures of your religion, your duty would be to bring into your fold as many non-believers as you can. Additionally, to spread the message of your god, you should get him yet more followers by bringing forth more children in your married life. Those who are non-believers in your god and religion feel threatened by you ~ of being taken over.
Christianity first clashed with Islam in 711 A.D. in Spain, conquered the country and onwards the Moors went till they reached Portieres in central France. There, at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, Charles Mattel squarely defeated the Moors. He later expelled the invaders from France. But for his loyalty to Jesus Christ and his brave generalship, the Moors would have been ruling France today.
It took centuries for the Spaniards to vacate the Moors from their land. In the meantime, the Christians inspired by their Popes launched the Crusades to recapture their holy land, namely Jerusalem, and the shrine of Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus Christ lies buried. There were eight crusades between the years 1095 AD to 1270.
Meanwhile, the Turks from central Asia invaded and conquered parts of eastern Europe. Turkey was their first and greatest prize besides Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia et al. The history of Europe is a continual saga of war from 711 A.D. to 1945. The fighting was either Islamo-Christian or intra-Christian.
After World War II ended, the third world war began between the USA and the Soviet Union. The weapons used were unique in the annals of history; that is, escalating nuclear deterrence without firing until the latter side collapsed economically in 1991. In the meanwhile, World War IV had started between the Islamists and the rest of the world. The first shots were fired at the Munich Olympics in 1972 when about a dozen Israeli athletes were massacred by terrorists. After visiting all the continents except Latin America, the war appears to be focusing on Europe. At present, it has zeroed in on France.
The conclusive corollary of the deductive premise of the Abrahamic religions is war and more war. On the other hand, Hinduism or the Indic theology is based on inductive logic which begins on the ground and moves upwards logically towards a conclusion. There is no given premise such as there being only one god. The core of Hinduism or its early version the Sanatana (eternal) dharma is karma which leads to bhagya or fate. Another way of putting it is “deeds result in destiny”. This equation is remarkably similar to the principle of Physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
There was no real question of god originally but more of deities and avatars in order to enable the worshiper to focus his/her attention. The concept of Bhagwan grew in importance with the advent of the medieval bhakti saints. They stressed the concept of swami and das to enable the common folk to understand and believe, thus focusing on the object of worship. That helped Hinduism to defend itself first against Islamic conversion attempts and thereafter the efforts of the Christian missionaries.
Every Hindu is free to worship as he likes and where he likes. Virtually every temple functions according to the wishes of its priests; there are innumerable denominations.
The lowest common denominator that is karma uncannily comes in the way of quick unity. Every Hindu, if he is satisfied with his own karma, is then in no hurry to go to the help of another Hindu. As a community, Hindus unite when they feel collectively under threat as they do at present vis-à-vis China.
Fundamentally, the Hindu is not readily inclined to kill any living being, leave alone humans. The reason is the widespread belief in rebirth after rebirth. Even when sacrificing a goat, it could occur to a sensitive individual: what if the animal carries the soul of my late aunt who died three years ago? Hindus are largely vegetarian. The Jains, whom the Hindus do not reject, extend their sympathy even to vegetation especially to items grown under the top soil, say roots.
All in all, an aware Hindu places his faith in self-actualization for fulfillment in life. This is in contrast to the Abrahamic propensity to collective domination which often leads to clashes and conquest through war. Hindu kings or nations have seldom gone out to conquer foreign lands.
If they have gone overseas, as the Cholas and the Pandyans of Tamil Nadu, they have spread culture and conducted trade and not brought home the fruit of the colony’s labour. See the example of Indonesia which still displays scenes from the Ramayana. Or take for instance, Cambodia and its Angkor Wat, which today is proud to have the finest of Hindu temples.
One cannot think of any other universal wrongdoing as the plausible reason for humanity’s current suffering. What else could nearly all countries have done, which has brought upon virtually the world the menace of Covid-19?
Uncannily, it happens to be true that the animal population of the earth has come down significantly, whereas human population has multiplied manifold. Could there be any co-relation between these two trends?
The countries of the West are developed and affluent but are currently taking a beating at the hands of this global virus. Africa might be forgiven as traditionally not all of that continent’s regions have had modern agriculture. On the other hand, the Chinese for long centuries have been eating practically anything that has life. During a fortnight’s visit to the country, I had the occasion to see animals, birds and even cockroaches on sale in a wet market at Guangzhou.
As far as dead animals are concerned, almost every posh restaurant in China had large glass jars of water with dead snakes floating in it, ostensibly in demand from consumers who drank the same for enhancing their health.
In his regard, Indian habits are almost in contrast to the Chinese. Therein may lie a clue to why almost every country in the world has been affected by the Covid virus.
Uncannily, while India has had a huge number of Covid-19 cases and patients, the proportion of deaths has been low. Canadian ministers and lately even some 50 UK Members of Parliament, as well as other members of the United Nations understand Hindudom to favour the world with peace.
The writer is an author, thinker and a former Member of Parliament